The Nobel Prize: A Moderately Inebriated Opinion


Leonard Cohen

Artie Lennon, vocalist and guitarist, is a featured attraction on Sunday afternoons at the Old City Hall tavern and restaurant in Oswego, where Richard Cocks, Dick Fader, and I, and a few other known malingerers regularly assemble for the weekly Symposium of the dissentient and disaffected.  Today Artie played a number of Leonard Cohen “covers,” with his usual uncanny aplomb.  (And, if I may say so, rather dissentiently and disaffectedly.)

After two, or perhaps three, pints the known malingerers concluded, in a moderately inebriated palaver, which was nevertheless culturally informed, that if any 1960s Bohemian singer should have received the Nobel Prize in 2016, it ought to have been Cohen, not Dylan.

The moderately inebriated Doctors Cocks and Bertonneau, the Honorary Doctor Fader, and the known malingerers invite moderately inebriated comments from The Orthosphere, or from the Jovian moon Europa, or from the Trans-Neptunian object Sedna, or from wherever the anti-That Woman vote is in the majority these days.  (Is Texas a planet?)

Especially from KRISTOR, who knows how to sing, and whom we hope someday will join the known malingerers for a palaver at Old City Hall on a Sunday afternoon!

12 thoughts on “The Nobel Prize: A Moderately Inebriated Opinion

  1. Pingback: The Nobel Prize: A Moderately Inebriated Opinion | Aus-Alt-Right

  2. Pingback: The Nobel Prize: A Moderately Inebriated Opinion | Reaction Times

  3. I respect both Dylan and Cohen as poets – a bit – but neither is a good singer. However heartfelt or serious, the sounds they make are not beautiful.

    Giving the Nobel to Dylan seems like a nice thing to do for a really serious artist, which he is. But that’s about all. I stopped understanding the Nobel prizes in literature and peace as indicative of true merit many, many years ago. Nowadays they are only a little more dignified than the Emmys.

    • I have always admired singers who make the best of their vocal limitations — maybe because my vocal limitations are severe but I nevertheless like to sing.

      Garth Hudson is another singer who exploits a limited vocal resource. I like him, too.

      I shall probably sing to my students in class today — the traditional Scots ballad “The Twa Sisters” — as we are currently studying balladry.

      Cohen’s lyrics are rooted in his nocturnal vision of Montreal, which, in his metaphors and figures, becomes phantasmagorical, like Baudelaire’s Paris. And Baudelaire might well be an influence.

      You’re right, of course. The Nobel Committee is really just another ad agency for liberalism.

      Below is Dudley Moore’s hilarious send-up of the extremely limited vocal resources of singer Peter Peers — and of Benjamin Britten’s unwillingness to write tunes on more than two or three notes. There’s a good Kurt Weill impression too.

  4. Firstly, a Nobel Prize for Literature should have nothing to do with the singing ability of the recipient (although I love the voices of both artists). It has to be about the words.

    I have the entire oeuvre of both. Cohen is a wonderful songwriter, second only, in my opinion, to Dylan in the last half century or so. However, I consider Dylan out on his own as a lyricist. Both men write great lyrics, with some qualifying as literature that stands as tall as that being created by their contemporaries-how it compares with writers of the past is another debate entirely, but not relevant to who merits the award currently.

    I would argue that Dylan has written far more great songs than Cohen, also that his peaks have been higher. Dylan has generally dealt with more profound themes than Cohen, particularly in his depth of theology; his style has been more detached and objective than Cohen’s. Cohen has usually written about the individual, whereas Dylan has placed more emphasis on the human condition as a whole. Please bear in mind that I write in generalisations and that both artists provide exceptions to the rule.

    In interview, Cohen has always praised Dylan as the superior user of words, particularly that with Paul Zollo in ‘Songwriters on Songwriting’.

    Regarding liberalism, I would regard neither of these men as liberal.

    • “Regarding liberalism, I would regard neither of these men as liberal.”

      Absolutely! I never meant to imply that either Cohen or Dylan was liberal. It’s the Nobel Committee that strikes me as another “ad agency for liberalism.”

      • Many liberals maintain a fantasy that Dylan is on their side and it would be very sweet if that forms part of the motivation of the Nobel Committee. It is pleasant to think that there will be many throughout the world, entirely unacquainted with him and perhaps expecting just another glib lib, who will read his lyrics and discover evangelical Christianity, more orthodox but utterly illiberal Christanity, anti-abortionism, anti-feminism, anti-globalism and support for Israel among his many themes.

  5. Nobody will ever give this guy a nobel, but my favorite rock lyricist is “dr. Frank” Portman. Mostly clever songs about girls and relationships, but here are a couple apropos of the content of this website.

    This is a song about a girl

    This one consists almost entirely of knock knock jokes (and one blond joke).

    • Give me some time to absorb all this, which is new to me. I’m absorbing a number of other things right now, including student prose, which contains many toxic elements, and I need to pace myself.


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